The Museum Collection

First Printing of "William Wilson" in The Gift

ID #:
Date: 1839
Format: Book
Dimensions: 7.25" x 4.75"
Source: Gift of John W. Robertson
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Publisher: Carey and Hart
Place of Publication: Philadelphia
Publish Date: 1839


The Gift was an annual anthology or gift book. Such git books had their origins in Germany, and the first such gift book was published in the United States appeared in 1826. These anthologies flourished in the 1830s and 1840s, and The Gift (along with The Token) was the nation's best. Poe found a willing publisher for his tales in The Gift beginning in 1836 with "Ms. Found in a Bottle" and continuing through 1845 with "The Purloined Letter."

In the 1840 issue, seen here, Poe printed for the first time his tale "William Wilson." Though we do not know how much Poe was paid for the story, we do know publishers of The Gift paid him $38 for "The Pit and the Pendulum" in 1843 and $12 for "The Purloined Letter" in 1845. Though the book is dated "1840," it was intended as a Christmas gift, so it was available in October 1839. The complete title of the publication was The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1840.